The new Bill & Melinda Gates Hall brings together the faculty and students of Cornell University’s Computer Science and Information Science departments into a single structure, designed to facilitate collaboration and spontaneous discourse between disciplines. Accentuated by fritted interior glazing, active social spaces interweave with academic program to extend education beyond traditional classroom settings. Public activity is organized around a dynamic, multi-level atrium on the west side of the building, with an efficient layout of classroom, laboratories, and offices to the east.
Projecting westward from the building, a two-story cantilever creates a dramatic canopy over the elevated Entry Plaza to establish a new visual gateway to the campus. Advanced digital modeling tools are used to map a double skin of undulating, perforated stainless steel panels, which envelop the reflective glass curtain wall on the second and third levels. The complex patterning causes the building to appear to shift throughout the day, evening, and seasons, as the sun reflects off this textural surface. Performative as well as aesthetic, the metal screen shades the building from the sun, while admitting diffuse daylight and affording exterior views.